On the 18th October, I competed with Charlie Passfield in the Althorp Sprint Duathlon organised by On Your Marks Events. This event was the final qualifying race for the 2015 European Sprint Duathlon Championships.
This sprint duathlon, going through the beautiful Althorp Estate, consisted in a 6k run, followed by a 20k bike and then a second run of 6k again; perfect configuration as I am a much stronger runner than biker.
My tactic was to follow Charlie and his young legs as long as possible during the first run. After one mile, I realised that his pace was a bit too fast for me and I did slow down. Just before entering transition, I twisted my left ankle and hopped on one leg for a few seconds. Despite a small pain, I was determined to carry on and see how it goes once on the bike. I completed the first 6k run in 22:17 and entered transition 35s after Charlie. I reached my bike, put my helmet on and then pushed my bike through the bumpy transition to the mount line. Just after the mount line, I realised my bike shoes were dangling. Both elastic bands holding my shoes in place had snapped off. Beginning of a nightmare. I decided to jump on the bike and try to slide my feet in the dangling shoes but it was “mission impossible”. So I dismounted, unclipped manually the shoes, slid my feet in the shoes, jumped back on the bike and clipped in. I lost 1:37 with this catastrophic bike mount but lesson learnt, I will now use strong elastic bands for my next races… At this point, I thought the race (and qualification for the Europeans) was over and asked myself if I should just stop. A first DNF? After a few seconds of hesitation, I decided to pedal hard to catch other competitors. In very muddy and dangerous conditions, I attacked downhill while other competitors were slowing down. Without the time wasted at the beginning of the bike leg, I would have achieved the 4th best time out of 300 competitors. With this good ride, I improved my position from outside 20. And finally, despite a painful ankle, I pulled out a good final 6k run, completed in 23:45.
My finishing time was 1:26:31 and, much to my surprise, I finished 1st in my age group and earned my qualification for the Europeans. I finished 17th overall and excellent result from Charlie who finished 4th overall.